Anticancer treatment has become a research highlight in recent years. Despite several techniques have
been developed and applied in the clinic, this area still meets great challenges in the construction of smart anticancer
devices with accurate targeting, controlled release and microenvironment response properties. Most of the
carbon-based materials are biocompatible, possessing abundant and tunable pore structures and particularly large
surface areas. These properties make them suitable materials as drug carriers. In addition, some carbon-based
materials are capable of absorbing near-infrared radiation (NIR) and have highly efficient photothermal effects.
The generated heat in situ can be used to kill cancer cells in short time on the position. This review describes the
recent and significant application of four kinds of carbon materials including carbon nanotubes, graphene, carbon
dots and mesoporous carbon for drug delivery and photothermal therapy. After a short introduction of the structures
and properties of these materials, the construction and application of these nanoplatforms in drug delivery,
photothermal therapy or their combination will be summarized and discussed in depth. In addition, other carbon
allotropes as drug carriers will be introduced briefly. Finally, the risk assessments and the perspectives and challenges
of these materials used in cancer therapies are enclosed.